Award-winner unpacks Zim fashion industry

HARARE - Two-time Zimbabwe Fashion Week (ZFW) Blogger of the Year Ameera Murad Ameer says the country’s budding fashion industry is ready for a big take-off despite the challenges it faces.

Ameer, whose blog, Kicking it with Mimi won two consecutive awards from 2014, attributes the renewed energy on the Zimbabwean fashion scene to a new crop of young designers.

“Zimbabwean fashion is taking shape and coming to life. Over the last few years, we have seen more designers emerging and most of all an increase in quality designs.

“Having returned to Zimbabwe from South Africa, I have observed that we are behind South Africa. However, Zimbabwe has a charming industry with some talented designers,” said Ameer.

The former University of Cape Town student singled out a number of designers who are contributing in a big way to the development of Zimbabwe’s fashion industry.

“Designers like Taf the Taylor, Maita Marimo and personal favourite Tapfumanei Munenge have been invited to showcase their collections outside Zimbabwe which is definitely a sign of a budding industry.

“In addition, legendary fashion designers have showcased on our local runways from Mustafa Hassanali from Tanzania to Thula Sindi from South Africa,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.

According to the award-winning fashion blogger, the local fashion industry is increasingly becoming more specialised and sophisticated.

“We now have choice and a preferred designer for each occasion. The industry is becoming specialised and so there is now an option for everyone as they would say.

“Menswear and women’s wear have their respective specialists. For example, Armur Bespoke has established himself as the go-to man for a perfectly tailored suit while Taf the Taylor’s Urban Wear line that he showcased at SA Menswear Fashion Week in South Africa both in 2015 and 2016 was trendy and captured urban and street style.

“The likes of T.I.R Fashion have mastered the animal print while the King of Couture, Tapfumanei Munenge is the go-to designer for evening wear and superb gowns tailored to perfection. NoeEs on the other hand specialises in swimwear ideal for any body type.

“David Alford has also brought an edgy style to the industry for those a little daring while the likes of Znzorzi Adby have been able to create an up-market collection for men. There are so many more options, we now have a designer for any occasion and style,” said Ameer.

Zimbabwean fashion designers’ exploits beyond the borders have not escaped Ameer’s notice.

“Internationally, there are very few names but without doubt Farai Simoyi is one of the most popular. She has worked with the likes of Beyonce and Nicki Minaj and has been waving the Zimbabwean flag very high.

“South Africa-based Spero Villioti is known for his glamorous evening gowns and has dressed Miss Zimbabwe contestants for the past two years.

“Accessory and hand bag designer Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri’s Vanhu Vamwe has stunned the fashion community with her unique pieces which landed her a nomination for the Vogue and Muuse Talents Young Vision Accessories Award,” she said.

The award-winning fashion blogger has also been excited by several initiatives that appear destined to create opportunities for the nascent local fashion sector.

“Zedlabel in particular has allowed Zimbabweans to shop online, be exposed to local specials and trends. Ultimately this creates a culture and interest around fashion.

“Fashion groups like Sans Exposure, Zimbabwe Fashion Network, The Fashion Blogger Association of Zimbabwe to Fashion Bloggers are proving useful to those who are enthusiastic about wearing local,” said Ameer.

The fashion enthusiast has also been excited by the way Zimbabwe’s fashion sector is using technology to extend its reach into other countries.

“With these new technological developments, it also means we now have a reach beyond Zimbabwe which is fantastic because our fashion now no longer has geographical boundaries,” she said.

Ameer, though, concedes that Zimbabwe still has a long way to go to match standards across the Limpopo.

“I think on a global level our garments in terms of fabric, quality and finish still need to be perfected and refined.

“Most of all, the business side of the industry is where we are lacking locally in terms of working with buyers and retailers.

“More local designers need to have their merchandise in stores and follow a sustainable business model. Stores like Edgars and Barbours have been open to stocking local designs so these kind of relationships are important.

“Both designers and buyers need to forge this partnership to ensure that designs are accessible to locals. We are making progress but still have some obstacles to overcome particularly economic challenges,” she said.

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